Politically as well as Economically Greece is Falling Apart
The mainstream media does its usual job of reporting between commercials. It tells us that the Greeks are in trouble and that Angela Merkel and the Eurozone are imposing stringent austerity measures before bailing out the nation. "Now, folks," says the media anchor, "Don't touch that remote. We'll be right back."
Truth is, Greece is a far larger cause for concern than the sixty second sound bytes indicate.
Several resignations have occurred this past week--three members of parliament,several departures from the cabinet, including a foreign minister who says the austerity measures are something she cannot support. Many of those resignations were on the socialist left. A right-wing coalition member,Yiorgos Karatzaferis, said his MPs would not vote for the measures. His were mixed signals, however, as he still supported Prime Minister Loukas Papademos. Some of his members saw this as fence-straddling and resigned.
The list goes on but the impact is this. When, not if, the measures have been passed, they will reduce the minimum wage to 600 Euros or $800 a month. 15,000 public employees become jobless this year. Over the next four years, almost 50,000 public employees will be looking for work. This comes in part as a result of political patronage. You scratch my back; I scratch yours. Now, back-scratching has helped bankrupt the economy. Retirees will feel the pinch, with drastic cuts in so-called auxiliary pensions. Those holding primary pensions also have cause to worry, for the government is eyeing primary pensioners, according to a government official.
Make no mistake. Greeks see this as catastrophic. Spending will drop, money will become less available, and therefore social security contributions will very probably be reduced as a result of less government income.
What this means for the Greek future.
The country could go socialist. After all, it has been there before under the PASOK leadership of George Papandreou, Prime Minister, born in Minnesota.
It could go that way and then again maybe not. People have lost faith in the two main political parties, New Democracy (conservative) and PASOK (socialist). Right now, ND towers over PASOK, which has fallen to eight percent in public polling, largely because of its populist largesse that got Greece into the mess.
But the Democratic Left, has suddenly come to prominence, polling 18 percent and is only a year old. The party broke away from the Left and the reformed communists but though they are more moderate their members were formed by those disenchanted with both the left and right, ND and PASOK. They appeal to a public also disenchanted with the two main parties.
What emerges from this coalition is anybody's guess.
Another phenomenon is the rise of parties to the left of PASOK. They have risen to 12 percent of popular vote in the 2009 election and are forecast at almost 43 percent in the next one.
So there you have it. PASOK and parties to its left. If these got together, they could form a government.
What happens next is at this moment a toss of the dice. On the one hand, the public sees the socialists as spending the government into the present crisis.
On the other, voters have a very short memory--and I can cite many examples of it right here in the United States.Subscribe in a reader